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NRT: “National security” or “National’s security”?

Written By: - Date published: 2:18 pm, September 14th, 2014 - 35 comments
Categories: john key, Spying - Tags: , ,

no-right-turn-256Reposted from No Right Turn

So, John Key has decided to double down on Glenn Greenwald’s revelations about GCSB spying, promising to declassify and release documents showing that a proposed panopticon was discussed but never implemented:

Mr Key has admitted for the first time that yes, New Zealand spies did look into what he calls a “mass protection” option that he concedes could have been seen as “mass surveillance” or “wholesale spying”, but that, and this is the important bit, he says it never actually went ahead.

Mr Key has revealed that after two major cyber-attacks on New Zealand companies, in late 2011 and early 2012, the GCSB stared to look at options with the help of partner agencies like the NSA.

But Mr Key says this idea never got past the business case stage because he deemed it too invasive.

This was before the Snowden leaks, and Mr Key says the fact he said no is why he has been able to be so resolute that there was no mass spying on Kiwis.

Mr Key believes that Snowden and Mr Greenwald have presentation slides, documents and wiring diagrams relating to the mass protection/surveillance option, but says they are missing the crucial fact that it never went ahead.

Mr Key has promised to declassify and release top-secret documents proving this, either tomorrow or the next day, getting in ahead of Dotcom and Mr Greenwald.

Firstly, I welcome this release. The more we know about what our spies are doing in our name, the better. And if they planned a panopticon, we need to know, so we can sack everyone responsible and never let them work in a public service role ever again.

At the same time, it should make all of us uncomfortable for what it reveals. As the SIS’s Security in the Government Sector manual makes clear, information is supposed to be classified only for valid reasons of national security. Looking at similar NSA documents, the information Key wants to release is likely classified SECRET or TOP SECRET. That means its release would cause “serious” or “exceptionally grave” damage to security or intelligence operations (see p. 55 – 58). You and I may not agree with those operations, or their idea of “national security”, but Key and the GCSB supposedly do – and those concerns don’t disappear simply because the PM decides it would be politically useful to release. Unless of course in their eyes, “national security” means “National’s security”.

Its worth remembering that Key and his office are already under investigation by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security for politically-motivated declassification decisions. I think this proves the case. It also shows that our “national security” apparatus is politicised and rotten to the core. Time to shut it down.

Finally, consider this: what makes public servants pay attention to the classification system and its security theatre? Because they believe that its actually about “national security”. The Prime Minister has just shown that its not, and is treating it like a joke. There’s now no reason for anyone in the GCSB, NZDF, SIS or MFAT not to do the same. My PGP key and email address is in the sidebar [at No Right Turn], and I’ll publish anything classified you send me. Let the leaks begin!

35 comments on “NRT: “National security” or “National’s security”? ”

  1. emergency mike 1

    Could #teamkey not argue that because of the leaked documents that Greenwald will present, declassifying these documents in now in the public interest in a ‘restoring the public’s faith in the integrity of the govt’ way?

  2. Dv 2

    Now the herald reporting Key is NOT. Going. To release the papers.
    Don’t show what he wants?

  3. Dv 3

    Oops Until after greenwald release

  4. Kiwi Local 4

    This is all getting very messy for Key.

    While the NatZ go around stating today that Labour’s new plank policy of a Norwegian style public buyback of assets called “NZ Inc.” is vague in detail???

    Well Mr Planet Keyster your policy of Security is the biggest hole of crappy vagueness the world has ever seen, and akin to Inspector Clueso.

    What is so startling is when you hear Glenn Greenwald’s revelations about GCSB spying and saying anyone can clamp on our underground cable to USA NSA or anywhere, and over the five eyes network, how can stupid Key believe that our SIS or anyone inside NZ can prevent anyone anywhere clamping on and stealing our whole transmission of everything here and everywhere.

    It is a digital nightmare folks and we have been conned by Key yet again. NO ONE IS SAFE NOW GREENWALD WILL SAY AND ITS TIME TO DUST OFF THE CB”s and short wave radios and go back to analogue signal transmitting folks.

    [lprent: Don’t shout. I have adjusted your volume downwards. ]

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      Ah yes I do believe analogue will come back into its own one day…still two or three decades to go though

  5. JanMeyer 5

    I’m confused; you say you welcome the release of the information but then try to argue against it because it is politically motivated. Are you saying that the government should not release documents that (may) prove that the allegations of mass surveillance are false? Assuming the allegations can be proved to be false then surely it is in the public interest for that to be established?

    • One Anonymous Bloke 5.1

      How would a document the PM gets from the GCSB “prove” his case?

      The NSA was caught giving legal advice to partner agencies to help them write surveillance laws that would leave loopholes for large scale data collection.

      Why would they need loopholes? For two reasons: either they’re concealing their intent from elected officials or the elected officials require plausible deniability. In either case nothing they say can be trusted, as though the words of spies were trustworthy in the first place.

      Remember, the prime motivation for the five eyes partnership is economic espionage: not much point only being allowed to spy on smelly terrorists when it’s trade secrets and civil conformity you’re after, is there?

      • Tracey 5.1.1

        How would john key know if the plan was implemented or not? Who in his office did he delegate this to? Can we hear from them instead?

    • Zolan 5.2

      Timing matters.
      If the release is good, then it should not have been classified in the first place, and should have been available before now.
      If it was classified with good reason, then releasing it when politically expedient undermines security measures.

      Disproving allegations is not reason enough to release classified infomation, otherwise we could get anything just by making the right allegations. There has to be some clear threat or benefit to the nation.
      In this case, they don’t even know what evidence will be presented or what its effects might be, so pre-emptively leaking classified info is a lottery.

      Can Key justify revealing classified information based on what he knew at the time he did so?

      It’s not preventing other leaks, or protecting us from attacks, or even countering any new eruptions of public unrest. People’s perceptions haven’t been suddenly overturned by hearing as yet unproven allegations — People have largely kept their prior beliefs.

      At best, if we want a security argument, the Key govt believes the truth will be so devastating that it’s in the public interest to throw some shade on it to limit harm.
      But it seems much more likely that that the only harm they are mitigating is political.

    • john smith 5.3

      He is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t in Standards eyes.

      • framu 5.3.1

        thats a problem that has been created by key himself

        its what happens when you lie on a regular basis

  6. disturbed 6

    Like Nicky Hager, Kim.Com is provoking yet further NatZ shift in emergency policy only when it is politically astute to do so.
    Without these brave men we would be in deep shit believe this.

  7. Treetop 7

    Key has created an atmosphere of international and national distrust.

    The only positive thing I see in all this, is that there is a general election on 20 September.

    • North 7.1

      Ha ! – the golfing buddy’ll be a bit hoha. New caddy coming up you reckon ? First rule of golf Hawaiian-styles – do not get caught fiddling the card !

      • Treetop 7.1.1

        I know nothing about golf!

        Does Cunliffe play golf?

        I expect there to be a lull between the leaders of NZ and the USA if the current government are sent packing on the 20th.

  8. Weepus beard 8

    Ahem. I like the phrase so much I coined it last month 🙂

    Timeline: Key responsible for SIS release

  9. North 9

    Key on TVOne News right now……..after KDC was arrested on the extradition matter………”Hollywood spoke with me.”

    Glad to see you’re not pulling the old “my office” trick John in acknowledging KDC korero with the moguls……..whenever it occurred.

    Would you have told us that if Robert Amsterdam weren’t a speaker at the Town Hall tomorrow night John ?

    • karol 9.1

      This is what Key said:

      This came after the report on KDC sayin he had evidence the US put pressure on the NZ government to grant KDC residency, in order to set him up to be extradicted.

      Prime Minister John Key backs that up.

      “Post him being in New Zealand there has been people in Hollywood that have raised the piracy issue with me but I did not have discussion with them about Kim Dotcom prior to that point,” said Mr Key.

      This is ambiguous re the timing. At what pint after KDC was in NZ? Well before the briefing Key got just before the raid on Dotcom mansion?

      And this IS a new admission from Key. How much is he admitting to things for the first time, to blunt what’s coming tomorrow night?

      • Tracey 9.1.1

        It is interesting key considered he needed to try and pre empt…

      • Hanswurst 9.1.2

        The above quote is typical of Key. It is poorly worded, not in the sense that it is clearly obfuscatory, but seemingly because he makes a hash of constructing a sentence and thus ends up saying nothing of any use. It’s like reading a foreign language that you understand enough to work out what he’s talking about, but not what he’s actually saying.

        This is illustrated amply if one contrasts the interviews with Cunliffe and Key on Stuff today. Cunliffe’s answers can be read, assimilated and debated easily. Key’s answers veer all over the place, don’t really address any particular issues consistently, conflate disparate ideas and don’t even make basic grammatical sense.

        • Rich

          I can’t quite figure out this bit;

          ” might be completely wrong but that’s my anecdotal thought on that from my own children having spent a year in school in Australia. And I think we do want to continue to really promote that because I actually think it does matter that we kind of understand our history within reason.”

          His kids are what, 20 and 18? So 13 years ago (2001) he was in Australia? I thought he came straight to NZ from his wonderful business career in the UK.

          • karol

            Interesting point, Rich.

            So you were quoting from the Qu & A transcript.

            Key left New York in 2001.

            He was a member of the Foreign Exchange Committee of the New York Federal Reserve Bank from 1999 to 2001.[13]

            In 1998, on learning of his interest in pursuing a political career, the National Party president John Slater began working actively to recruit him. Former party leader Jenny Shipley describes him as one of the people she “deliberately sought out and put my head on the line–either privately or publicly–to get them in there”.[5][14]

            He was elected to parliament for the first time in 2002. And it does look like he went to Sydney in between.

            By late 2001, Key had made his decision to run for Parliament; it was just a question of how. He was still working at investment bank Merrill Lynch, but had been talking to National officials about wanting to have a serious tilt at entering Parliament in the 2002 elections.
            In October 2001, Key flew into Auckland from Sydney for a meeting which would determine his path. Simpson had suggested to Beverley Revell, a registered nurse who was the deputy regional chair and Neeson’s former electorate chairwoman, that she meet Key.

            Why? Why not come back to NZ if he was so keen to enter NZ politics?

            Was he working for Merrill Lynch in Sydney?

  10. North 10

    Sorry Karol, seems I misheard. But, as you say timing is crucial here. If, as Key has repeatedly told Parliament he didn’t know about KDC until the day before the raid, there are two possibilities –

    1.tow choiceafter the raid then Hollywood’s calling Johnno after the NZ authorities he’s been may have misheard

  11. North 11

    Sorry again Karol – computer playing up…..resuming – there are two possibilities –

    1. After months of planning US authorities have commenced their move against KDC (raid etc). Thereafter the Prime Minister of New Zealand is discussing a matter already formally seized by New Zealand authorities with a private interest group formally unconnected. Just as in a fashion, having regard to Rule of Law considerations, the Prime Minister of New Zealand is himself formally unconnected, or

    2. This korero with Hollywood which Key now acknowledges, occurred at the very least (to be generous) prior to the day before the raid. Which contradicts Key’s repeated assurances to Parliament.

    Not looking good…….calling BLiP calling BLiP. Oh, and John Armstrong.

  12. Iron Sky 12

    Is this a classic National Play

    1. Wait till the last minute and then release information when it suits you to have the greatest effect.

    2. Setup a honey pot (i.e. a honey pot with no honey)

    If they can release this information, then any accompanying meta data statistics (not actual data – but sweeps) could be released as well to show how much data has been collected and from what regions in NZ. If thats a problem, then someone who is independent should be informed behind closed doors.

    How many Left wing vs right wing bloggers have been targeted (i.e. Slater must have been as they watch their own but whats the disparity between the left and right).

    What the hell is vodaphone fork?

    Oh and if your feeling bored and want to Jam with them put these in your phone conversations and e-mails. Maybe the independent person could see if there data count goes up!

    Also watch out if you were dyslexic and talking about making a bong


    Maybe you could add a few more NZ related phrases…..

    John Key is a lying xxxx wit

    Uncle Sam admits monitoring you for these 377 words

    Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
    Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
    Coast Guard (USCG)
    Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
    Border Patrol
    Secret Service (USSS)
    National Operations Center (NOC)
    Homeland Defense
    Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE)
    Task Force
    Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
    Fusion Center
    Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)
    Secure Border Initiative (SBI)
    Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
    Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF)
    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS)
    Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS)
    Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
    Air Marshal
    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
    National Guard
    Red Cross
    United Nations (UN)
    Domestic security
    Law enforcement
    Disaster assistance
    Disaster management
    DNDO (Domestic Nuclear Detection Office)
    National preparedness
    Dirty bomb
    Domestic nuclear detection
    Emergency management
    Emergency response
    First responder
    Homeland security
    Maritime domain awareness (MDA)
    National preparedness initiative
    Militia Shooting
    Shots fired
    Explosion (explosive)
    Disaster medical assistance team (DMAT)
    Organized crime
    National security
    State of emergency
    Bomb (squad or threat)
    Pipe bomb
    Chemical spill
    Suspicious package/device
    National laboratory
    Nuclear facility
    Nuclear threat
    Biological infection (or event)
    Chemical burn
    Hazardous material incident
    Industrial spill
    Powder (white)
    Blister agent
    Chemical agent
    Nerve agent
    North Korea
    Food Poisoning
    Foot and Mouth (FMD)
    Small Pox
    Human to human
    Human to Animal
    Center for Disease Control (CDC)
    Drug Administration (FDA)
    Public Health
    Toxic Agro
    Terror Tuberculosis (TB)
    Water/air borne
    Norvo Virus
    World Health Organization (WHO) (and components)
    Viral Hemorrhagic Fever
    E. Coli
    Infrastructure security
    CIKR (Critical Infrastructure & Key Resources)
    Computer infrastructure
    Communications infrastructure
    Critical infrastructure
    National infrastructure
    Airplane (and derivatives)
    Chemical fire
    Port Authority
    NBIC (National Biosurveillance Integration Center)
    Transportation security
    Body scanner
    Failure or outage
    Black out
    Brown out
    Service disruption
    Power lines
    Drug cartel
    U.S. Consulate
    El Paso
    Fort Hancock
    San Diego
    Ciudad Juarez
    Mara salvatrucha
    MS13 or MS-13
    Drug war
    Mexican army
    Cartel de Golfo
    Gulf Cartel
    La Familia
    Nuevo Leon
    Narco banners (Spanish equivalents)
    Los Zetas
    Meth Lab
    Drug trade
    Illegal immigrants
    Smuggling (smugglers)
    Barrio Azteca
    Artistic Assassins
    New Federation
    Al Qaeda (all spellings)
    Environmental terrorist
    Eco terrorism
    Conventional weapon
    Weapons grade
    Dirty bomb
    Chemical weapon
    Biological weapon
    Ammonium nitrate
    Improvised explosive device
    IED (Improvised Explosive Device)
    Abu Sayyaf
    FARC (Armed Revolutionary Forces Colombia)
    IRA (Irish Republican Army)
    ETA (Euskadi ta Askatasuna)
    Basque Separatists
    Tamil Tigers
    PLF (Palestine Liberation Front)
    PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization
    Car bomb
    Weapons cache
    Suicide bomber
    Suicide attack
    Suspicious substance
    AQAP (AL Qaeda Arabian Peninsula)
    AQIM (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb)
    TTP (Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan)
    Home grown
    Extreme weather
    Forest fire
    Brush fire
    Tsunami Warning Center
    Mud slide or Mudslide
    Power outage
    Brown out
    Emergency Broadcast System
    Cyber security
    DDOS (dedicated denial of service)
    Denial of service
    Cyber Command
    Cain and abel
    Brute forcing
    Mysql injection
    Cyber attack
    Cyber terror
    Social media

  13. venezia 13

    This is good! Check out Laila Harre interviewing Greenwald and Amsterdam;


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  • PM Ardern chairs APEC Leaders’ meeting on COVID-19
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  • Northland Maori Pathways initiative introduced
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